What is porpoising in F1 and why is it creating so much controversy? | The Sun

What is porpoising in F1 and why is it creating so much controversy? | The Sun

July 22, 2022

F1's new rules for this season have forced teams to redesign their cars but some are struggling with extreme bouncing called porpoising.

Here SunSport looks at the aerodynamic phenomenon, what causes it and how it can be stopped.

What is porpoising?

Previously, F1 cars used aerodynamics to push the car downwards into the ground.

The faster it went, the more air flew over the car's front and rear wings and as that weight increased, the lower the car went to the ground.

The problem was that it caused turbulent air behind, so it made it hard for the car behind to get close enough to overtake.

Think of a speed boat churning up the sea, it makes it difficult for a boat behind sat in choppy water.

This year, the cars are designed to use their floors to suck it to the ground at high speed, which creates less turbulence and, in theory, more overtaking chances and better racing.

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What causes the porpoising?

The faster a car goes, the more the suction power of the floor, but of course once the car touches the ground, the airflow under the car stops.

That stall in flow caused the car to lose that downforce and it springs back up again.

However, once the gap is made under the car, the downward suction starts again until it touches the floor.

The stop/start of the suction caused the bouncing we have seen resulting in drivers bouncing up and down, causing them considerable discomfort and pain.

How can you stop it?

The simple answer is to raise up the height of the F1 car. The only problem is, that results in less downforce and that equates to slower lap times.

Unsurprisingly, that is not an option for the competitive F1 teams who are only focused on making their car go quicker.

So what has been done?

F1's governing body, the FIA have introduced limits to how much porpoising is allowed.

They have calculated a number based on an equation that is simply too difficult to comprehend – but, there is a limit.

Other measures that will come into play in the future are raised floor heights at the sides, changes to the diffuser on the floor and sensors to measure how much porpoising is happening – and that it is within the above mentioned limit.

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